Summit Week Luncheon Speakers Amuse, Inspire and Inform

Make Your Own Disaster Plan

Disaster planning starts at home and each of us should take steps to prepare for such eventualities, says Glenn Spratt, Edmonton’s emergency planning officer.

Mr. Spratt spoke to an Edmonton District Meeting, held April 15 in conjunction with APEGGA’s Ideas ’98 Conference. Edmonton’s chief emergency planner noted tragic events such as Edmonton’s tornado disaster of July 31, 1987, which killed 27 people, heighten public awareness of the need for disaster preparedness. Locally that event led to improved warning through the use of Doppler radar, and an emergency public warning system that interrupts broadcasts. However, after a while, memory of the event, and the public and political resolve tend to fade.

Government downsizing and increased privatizing of some utility functions in areas such as communication, plus reorganization of health care delivery, potentially make it harder to co-ordinate activities after a major natural disaster. Though computer systems can assist in analysing disasters and their risks, and channel help to where it’s most needed, many organizations that are expected to respond to disasters have fewer people to complete their tasks.

Therefore, greater emphasis must be placed on preparedness and prevention - both at the community and individual levels. It is not always possible to prevent certain disaster, but said Mr. Spratt, "prevention techniques can really lessen the cost in terms of human lives and real dollars."

"When something bad happens, the service level in the city is going to be affected. You need to personally prepare a survival strategy based on simple logical steps."

Don’t Ignore R&D in Tax Mix

In its quest for a simpler tax system, Alberta must take care not to throw the R&D baby out with the fiscal bath water, suggests the president and CEO of Economic Development Edmonton.

Other countries offer new and emerging knowledge-based industries incentives, and at the April 17 APEGGA AGM luncheon, Jim Edwards observed: "the rest of the world is not opting for tax simplification when it comes to R&D." In order to remain competitive, Alberta needs tax and regulatory policies, coupled with a lively venture capital industry, that foster emerging industries in such fields as pharmaceuticals, telecommunication and agro-food.

The Alberta Science and Research Authority has set a target for the year 2010 of having 25 per cent of the province’ s GDP generated by knowledge-based industries (vs. seven per cent a present). Mr. Edwards reminded his audience that traditional industries, such as oil, agriculture and forestry, also have important knowledge-based components. Alberta must have a critical mass of skilled workers. Mr. Edwards encouraged APEGGA to work with educational institutions to ensure that possibility.

However, when talents are easily transferable across borders and around the world, that can be difficult, as skills, such as engineering, are lured elsewhere. To help Alberta retain its position and meet the ASRA objectives, the province must remedy any deficiencies as well as build upon and stress its strengths, including its attractive natural environment.

Learning a Constant In Changing Times

Past experience offers no guarantee of future success, warns Victoria-based broadcast executive, motivational speaker and raconteur Mel Cooper. "We’re in a world where you can’t live on past experience," the chairman of B.C. Air told an Edmonton luncheon audience on April 16 during Ideas ’98.

It should come as no surprise, he suggested, - when 60 per cent of all engineers who ever lived are alive — that 50 per cent of the technology in use five years from now, has yet to be invented.

That requires that we embrace change and it means we can’t afford to stop learning, "You have to get out there and learn everything you can absorb," Mr. Cooper urged in a speech entailed "Your Attitude Determines Your Altitude". It’s a slogan he admits borrowing from an Olympic high jumper, but it applies in non-athletic endeavors too. "All of us can jump higher," the speaker stressed. "It starts with believing. It is a matter of raising the bar for ourselves, our companies and those around us."